Two students have been accused of using counterfeit iPhones in a scam which defrauded Apple out of nearly $900,000 (£689,000).
According to court documents, the US-based students received shipments of fake phones from China and sent them to Apple to get them repaired.
According to the charges, Apple often responded to repair requests by sending the pair replacement models – genuine iPhones which the pair sent back to China to be sold for profit.
The pair, Quan Jiang and Yangyang Zhou, are Chinese nationals who were legally in the US on student visas.
According to court documents, Apple doesn’t immediately examine or repair phones which have power issues – but typically aims to replace them as soon as it can.
Apple sent cease-and-desist orders to an address associated with Jiang demanding he stop sending counterfeit phones in 2017.
However when interviewed by an agent for Homeland Security, Jiang denied having received any of these letters.
Apple estimated that during the course of the alleged scam it completed 1,493 repair requests sent by Quan Jiang, out of more than 3,000 made.
Apple claimed this cost it $895,800 (£685,000).
According to court documents, Jiang is suspected of having made 3,069 warranty claims, all cited for “no power / wired charging issues”.
His co-defendant, Yangyang Zhou, is accused of falsifying export documentation.
The pair have claimed that they did not know the phones they were sending for repair were counterfeit.
The alleged scam was discovered in 2017, when customs officials opened up several suspicious shipments from Hong Kong containing mobile phones.
Although the devices appeared to be iPhones, with the same design and logo, the shipping methods and packaging made the officials suspicious.